Top Ten World Cup Heroes.Mario Kempes-Super Mario
Mario Kempes was the star that shone the brightest for the Pale Blue and White of Argentina in 1978.For it was the flamboyant long haired strikers goals that propelled the home nation to World Cup glory after 48 years of hurt and disappointment.With the country wracked by unrest, and its economy in a shambles,there was doubt they could stage this tournament,but they did,and they gave the globe a kaleidoscopic view of the nation's relentless pursuit to become World Champions.
Mario Alberto Kempes, was born in Cordoba in 1954. Mario' s father had been a keen amateur footballer and he inspired Mario to master the game.he quickly rose through the ranks,and the rising star gained his first full cap in 1973 as Argentina qualified for the 1974 world finals held in Germany,where a subdued Mario did not get on the score-sheet . Argentina stumbled through the first phase, and were given a football lesson by Holland who thumped them 4-0 in the second stage.
Mario moved outside his homeland, signing for Valencia in 1976, he was worshipped by the Spanish supporters after scoring over 50 goals in his first two seasons in La Liga. El Matador was red hot!
1978 Ticker Tape Nights
Argentina hosted the1978 World Cup,with it's Military Junta in control.Kempes being the only foreign based player used by coach Cesar Luis Menotti.
Based in Beunos Aries,and with all the hosts matches starting in the cool evenings,they seemed nicely set.Kempes failed to score in any first stage games. Argentina's runner -up spot meant they moved away from the capital for the second stage group games.
Mario with his surging runs and astute positioning grabbed his first brace when the home nation beat Poland 2-0, then came a hard fought 0-0 draw with Brazil .With FIFA not insisting on simultaneous kick-offs, Argentina knew they had to win their final group game against Peru by at least 4 goals,to better their bitter rivals goal-difference, and qualify for the final.After a slow start El Matadors next two performances would prove to be galvanic.
Roared on by a fervent, patriotic crowd and an ever deepening team spirit, it was Mario Kempes who scored first on a pitch covered in ticker tape confetti,.A typically powerful run ended with him slotting the ball past the keeper.Two minutes into the second half he scored again, a poachers goal from six yards to make it 3-0.Peru wilted from hereon ,and they were rolled over 6-0!Questions were asked, and fingers pointed, but it didn't matter Argentina were in the final.
The Game of his Life
They returned to the capital for the final against Holland.Ticker tape festooned the pitch once again ,and a sea of pale blue and white supporters spurred on the home nation.Super Mario playing the game of his life scored first again ,almost identical to his opener against Peru.The superb Dutch equalised,and could have won in the last minute , but for the post,So it was extra time.
There was no stopping the rampant El Matador, another electric burst into the penalty area he beat two players, and the keeper before planting the ball into the net for the killer goal.Helped by the big No 10, Bertoni made it 3-1, and the nation that expected the World Champions trophy had it delivered to them by their willing players.
Mario kempes took the Golden Boot with his six goals , and of course he was named the player of the tournament.This hero was now worshipped all over the world.
Most of this winning team were in Spain for the next World Cup in1982,but they didn't reach the same pinnacle, and were dumped in the second phase.
El Matador made 18 world cup appearance in all, and scored 6 goals
Mario retired from international football after playing 43 games and scoring 20 goals,and he was never sent off or booked in his international career.He continued playing club football until he retired in1996.Mario also tried his hand at coaching,and now works as a journalist for ESPN.
The Argentinians were numbered alphabetically in the 1978 world cup and by chance Kempes got to don the coveted No 10 shirt.However by 1982 the World Cup No 10 jersey had been taken by someone called Maradona.
The video is a reminder of Mario's game of his life.
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